Use our online form.

Use our online form.
Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire - Branch Logo featuring the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly.Butterfly Conservation.

Butterflies - Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly is one of our most common and easily recognised species. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats and regularly occurs in gardens. It is fast flying in bright sunshine but can be easily approached when feeding.

The species is a strong flyer and easily colonises suitable habitat. It also hibernates during the winter and is usually one of the first butterflies to be seen in the spring.

Recent years have seen a rapid decline in numbers of Small Tortoiseshell both in Warwickshire and across the whole of the UK. The primary reason for this decline is due to the expanding range of a tachinid parasitoid fly called Sturmia bella which was first recorded in Britain in 1999. The fly lays its eggs on the surface of Common Nettle leaves. These are ingested by the young caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell and other nettle feeding species of the Nymphalidae family (Peacock, Comma and Red Admiral) although these appear not to be effected. The Sturmia bella larvae develop within the caterpillar and emerge just after the caterpillar pupates, killing the pupae in the process.

  • Larval Food Plants
  • Habitat
  • Status
  • Key Sites
  • Links
  • Photographs

Common Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Gardens, railways, rough ground, anywhere where the larval foodplant Common Nettle is present.

Resident in Warwickshire.

A widespread species which can be found across our region. In locations where Common Nettles occur, the species may be numerous.

Find out more about the Small Tortoiseshell online at the following links;

Flight Chart
The flight chart below is based on observations of the adult Small Tortoiseshell butterfly in Warwickshire between 2005 and 2008. Peak periods are shown in dark green.

Small Tortoiseshell Flight Chart

Distribution Maps

Small Tortoiseshell - 2011 records / distribution. Small Tortoiseshell - 2010 records / distribution. Small Tortoiseshell - 2000 to 2009 records / distribution.
2011 (1yr) 2010 (1yr) 2000-09 (10yr)

Small TortoiseshellSmall Tortoiseshell © Steven Cheshire

Annual First Sightings
First sighting dates are based on records of Small Tortoiseshell submitted online. Please note that these dates are not updated retrospectively to include records submitted to the branch recorder in other forms.

28/01/2018 Clifton Road allotments

01/01/2017 Hampton Lucy Church

31/01/2016 Shanklin Drive, Weddington, Nuneato

08/02/2015 Knowle

19/01/2014 Dunn Cow, Dunchurch

02/03/2013 Hartshill Hayes

23/02/2012 Upton Estate

11/02/2011 Weddington Disused Railway

01/03/2010 Draycote Reservoir

17/02/2009 Browning Road, Hillmorton, Rugby

10/02/2008 Judkins Quarry, Nuneaton

21/01/2007 Alvecote Pools

Other Species

Please select an alternative species from the list below.